Thursday, July 31, 2014

"Full Steam Ahead" Review

Nicole Renard might be a smart young woman who has grown up around boats her entire life, but she is not what her father needs when it comes to taking over the helm of Renard Shipping. With her father’s health failing, Nicole sets off from Galveston to New Orleans with a controversial dowry to do the only thing she can do to remedy the situation – find a husband.

Darius Thornton has made it his life’s work to make steamboats safer for the many patrons who travel on them. After a boiler explosion on a steamboat almost took his life, Darius secluded himself on an estate in Texas to conduct experiments and testing to improve boilers and enhance safety aboard steamboats. Nothing can come between Darius and his experiments – that is until Nicole shows up on his doorstep looking for work.

When Nicole is prevented from making it to New Orleans because of interference from her father’s competitors, she has no recourse but to look for work in the small town of Liberty, Texas. Darius Thornton is not the best of employers, but it will buy her some time to make money to continue her journey and will provide some measure of safety from those who pursue her.

As Nicole and Darius begin to work on the boiler experiments together, their growing attraction for each other further complicates matters. Both of them have callings in their lives that leave no room for love. What will happen when they take a chance and learn to trust that God’s plans are always best?

Set near Galveston, Texas, in 1851, Full Steam Ahead is a romantic tale of love and trust against a backdrop of scientific discovery.

This novel literally starts off with a bang as the reader is taken immediately to Darius and his experience onboard the steamboat Louisiana as it sinks due to a boiler explosion. This way of introducing one of the main characters really draws you in and lets you get to know the character’s thoughts and feelings in a way that is immediate and personal. This first section was rough to read due to its graphic description of the steamboat accident, but, as I said, it really got you into the book all at once. The introduction to Nicole and her arrival at Oakhaven as Darius’s secretary was also interesting and fast-paced.

The main plot of this book about Darius and his experiments was really fascinating, and it made an excellent backdrop for the rest of the story. This was probably the most interesting thing to me historically and as a part of the story. And although the spiritual side of things could have gone much deeper, there were still times when the characters really did grow and change and learn to trust God even when it was hard.

As for the romantic aspect of the book, it started out really well. Their attraction to each other was based on so much more than just physical appearance. Darius was captivated by Nicole’s mind and by her fierce determination. Nicole was able to look past Darius’s eccentricities and see the passion and integrity that went into his work. But as their relationship progressed, this angle got lost and was replaced by romance-novel-type drivel. An example of this is when Darius kisses Nicole, and in his mind the kiss is described as “branding her as his.” It’s hard for me to describe when and how this shift occurred, but it just didn’t seem as if the same two people who were in the relationship at the beginning/middle of the book were the same ones more towards the end. The fact that this relationship took place over an unrealistic two-week period might have had something to do with it, but I’m not sure.

Aside from this romantic contradiction, the remainder of the novel was really fantastic. There is an adventure angle that has to do with Nicole’s dowry and inheritance that really puts a pirate-type twist on the ending. Although somewhat unrealistic, it was really fun and made for an exciting and satisfying novel overall.

Except for some of the romantic parts in the middle, Full Steam Ahead was an enjoyable escape with engaging characters and a plot that kept me turning pages right to the end.

I will give Full Steam Ahead ... 4 BookWorms.

Full Steam Ahead
by Karen Witemeyer
Bethany House Publishers
Publication date: May 27, 2014

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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